“Until all of us have made it, none of us have made it – Rosemary Brown.”
It’s women’s day today, and we all wish the same to the nearest and dearest ladies in our life, be it your mother, sister, lover, or friend. But it’s not just about wishing women on the day itself; it’s way more than that.
Women’s day is celebrated to highlight the progress made towards achieving a gender-neutral society through women empowerment. Reflecting on these achievements, this day also strives to build a greater momentum towards gender equality across the globe.
Even today’s time, we see a lot of taboos and stigmas related to women. These issues hamper the progress towards equality and degrade the moral upliftment of humankind as a whole.
Let’s look at the 8 major problems women face in their everyday lives. Highlighting these issues and talking about them is the first step towards eliminating them.
A lot of people get uncomfortable over a simple sanitary pad advertisement. Many people don’t understand that this is a biological process and needs to be addressed. Due to this stigma, many young girls who don’t have pads miss out on their education as they don’t go to school and are left out of the millions of opportunities to pursue their dreams.
Saying the term “period” rather than “that day of the month” is the first step toward normalization and the eradication of shame and taboo related to it. Even getting pads from medical stores should be normalized and shouldn’t be considered as something to feel guilty about by wrapping a newspaper and black polybag. Secondly, teach females about periods, the usage of pads or tampons, and period discomfort from the start. However, make sure that this conversation is about raising knowledge for both the females and boys in the house, rather than a source of guilt and isolation. Finally, the period should be viewed as a bodily function rather than a symbol of adulthood, sexuality, curse, or impurity.
Pregnant women and new mothers face prejudices, including being inappropriately touched, being less likely to be recruited or promoted, being underpaid, and being subjected to a slew of stereotypes. Pregnant women and mothers are seen as inept and uncommitted. If they return to work, they will be viewed as cold, incompetent, and indecisive. These stigmas become even worse when pregnant women are overweight, as weight-based stigmas introduce extra biases.
To eliminate this issue and normalize its existence, we need a collective approach. Introducing government laws and regulations related to pregnancy rights in the workplace would be the first step towards ending this bias. Moreover, educational videos to educate fellow employees and create supporting infrastructure for women in the time of labor will further help. Afterall, women are creators of life and we all were once conceived in the womb of our mother.
Eve teasing and harassment
Eve teasing and sexual harassment have existed for a long time. It’s prevalent due to men’s dominant ideology passed over generations that looks over women as mere objects. Though ignored, as usual, eve-teasing and harassment have a tremendously adverse effect on women’s life, including tight restrictions on mobility, inability to attend school or work, girls being blamed, and causing family problems.
Certain efforts at the familial, societal, legal, and personal levels are required to address this issue. Males should not be granted undue independence and authority, and a sense of accountability should be instilled in men during socialization at the home and society levels. Moreover, instilling values right from the school among boys can further propel the eradication of this issue. The media also can play a significant role in raising public awareness about the importance of this problem.
Indeed it is surprising that breastfeeding hasn’t been normalized as it should be. A woman breastfeeding in public without the fortress of cover still gets awkward and uncomfortable looks.
To eradicate this issue, we should have a multidimensional approach that includes talking about the challenges, accepting the right to Breastfeed, encouraging policy changes, and supporting resources for nursing moms. Along with all these measures, it is also crucial to create awareness among the public who look down upon women when she is breastfeeding.
Being a male dominant society, there is another problem that affects women in everyday life, i.e., the permission of consent. Women are simply considered homemakers and supposed to do household chores, while all the major decisions related to finances, family planning, and professional developments are still confined to men.
To eliminate this patriarchal mindset, we need to educate men about equality right from childhood. For elders, various informational campaigns can be introduced, especially in backward areas, alongside the efforts by the government through the introduction of comprehensive equality laws.
The fact that in India, at least 1.5 million females under the age of 18 marry each year, and almost 16% of adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 are married highlights the scale of the problem. Early marriage is linked to an increased risk of mortality from delivery, unplanned pregnancies, pregnancy termination, and children’s malnutrition. Also, the chance of psychiatric illnesses increases when a girl child marries at a very young age.
Though there are various strict laws introduced regarding the early marriage of a girl, we still have a long way to go. Working on the same, it’s imperative to educate societies through informational campaigns and awareness programs like Mahila Samkhya about the harms early marriage brings to girls.
This topic is altogether different from harassment as it is developed as a psychological problem out of fear. From commuting alone in real life to having opinions on the internet on general issues, women are always afraid of the negative consequences they might have to face. This further shackles the progress towards women’s equality as their freedom and voice is suppressed.
Stringent measures for both online and offline mediums should be introduced to tackle this issue. While developing public infrastructure and digital spaces, the safety of women should be considered. In case of various emergencies, helpline numbers can be a great way to address the issue on time.
Even though different government regulations ensure that this issue is eliminated to the core, there is still an existing workplace disparity against women. In the first place, considering their monthly issues and maternal aspects, they are discriminated against in employment opportunities. If hired, the neutral workplace environment is ignored, and women are subjected to various taunts, comments, and not even the basic facilities they require.
Though this problem highlights that women are moving towards greater roles than simply homemakers, we have to go a long way. Government interference with various laws, the introduction of aggressive policy on discrimination, implementing gender-neutral recruitment process are a few measures that can provide optimum thrust collectively to eradicate this problem.
A pledge for neutrality!
These are the 8 prominent women’s problems of the contemporary world affecting their lives. It is high time to deal with these existing issues to create an equitable society where women are not considered inferior and submissive. It is only through the effort of each of us we can further propel gender neutrality to create a better tomorrow.